New Delhi: The tenth season of the T20 cricket tournament Indian Premier League (IPL) made a strong debut this season with 88.3 million impressions for the three matches played between 5 April and 7 April, a 40% jump from a year ago period.
The first three matches reached 185.7 million viewers, almost 15% higher than last year.
Impressions, also known as television viewership in thousands (TVT), refer to the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes. Reach is the number of target households in thousands where the event was viewed for at least one minute.
In 2016, the ninth season of IPL had recorded 63.1 million impressions for first three matches across five channels— Sony Max, Sony Six, Sony Six HD, Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD, according to data released by television viewership measurement agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India on Thursday.
During the same period last year, the reach was estimated at 160.7 million. However, due to changes in measurement system, the reach numbers may not be strictly comparable.
As a result of this jump, Sony Max which was nowhere to be spotted in Barc’s top ten most-watched channels’ list last week, became the second-most viewed channel with 853.49 million impressions, after Tamil-language general entertainment channel Sun TV.
Sony Max, owned by Sony Pictures Networks India Ltd, has been the official television broadcasters of IPL for the last ten years since the tournament began.
Interestingly, not only are more people watching IPL 2017 but the average time spent by a viewer on the matches played has also seen a 56% jump. During the week, the first three matches were watched for 72 minutes (on an average per viewer) as against 46 minutes during IPL-9, according to a statement released by Sony Pictures Networks.
The first three matches of IPL-10 include Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians vs Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions vs Kolkata Knight Riders.
The match played between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants recorded 30.3 million impressions, 5.9 million higher than last year.
Explaining the reason behind the significant jump in the IPL viewership, Anita Nayyar, chief executive officer of Havas Media Group, India and South Asia said: “The fact that it is the tenth year of IPL and nobody knows how it will shape up next year (as the IPL broadcast rights are coming up for renewal). Moreover, the matches being played this time are very interesting. It’s the game that is delivering. For advertisers, IPL has always been the safest bet.”
IPL’s television broadcast rights which are currently held by Sony Pictures Networks Pvt. Ltd, are set to expire in 2017 with the tenth edition. The internet and mobile rights, however, are held by Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, a unit of Star India, till 2017. Both television and digital rights of IPL are up for grabs right now for 2018 and beyond.
Tuhin Mishra, managing director of sports marketing firm Baseline Ventures agreed that the game itself is delivering and is coming across as a refreshing flavour of T20 cricket after a long season of test matches. “Last year, there was an overdose of T20 cricket with the World Cup taking place in the same year. This year, India has mostly had test matches. Secondly, Indian team has performed well which is helping the interest in IPL,” he said.
However, to an extent, the jump in viewership can also be attributed to the recent changes in Barc’s measurement universe. “The jump could be on account of the recasting of the Barc sample. However, there is and will be some increase in the viewership otherwise. With all the focus on BCCI and Supreme Court this year, cricket has become more high profile than it was earlier,” said Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director at Madison World.
Barc India had recently updated and aligned its TV universe in line with ground level changes in demographics, TV ownership and connection type among other things. After the update in March 2017, total television households in the country rose to 183 million from 154 million in 2013.
In 2016, Sony Pictures Network had netted close Rs1,020 crore in advertising revenue, according to report titled Sporting Nation in the Making IV, jointly published by GroupM ESP, the sports and entertainment arm of GroupM and SportzPower, a sports business news company.
For the tenth season, Sony had set a target of Rs1,300 crore which it has already surpassed by selling all the advertising spots. Chinese handset maker Vivo is the title and presenting sponsor of IPL-10, while telecom operator Vodafone and online marketplace Amazon are co-presenting sponsors.
“It has been a great start. Over the years, IPL has been getting better with the quality of cricket and has now become an annual event for India,” said Rohit Gupta, president, network sales and international business at Sony Pictures Networks which runs a clutch of sports and entertainment channels.
In 2016, the overall ad expenditure on sports events grew 24.63% to Rs3,510.8 crore according to the report Sporting Nation in the Making IV. Total sports sponsorship saw a growth of 19.33% in 2016 to touch Rs6,400 crore.